Tanzania: COVID-19 Response - State Pumps in Billions

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A WHOPPING sum of 302m US dollars (about 698.4bn/) has so far been released for health spending as part of government response to Covid-19 pandemic.

This is per the International Monetary Fund (IMF) tracker on policy responses to Covid-19 by governments across the globe.

According to a report by the IMF, the money, which the Tanzanian government has so far directed in the fight against Covid-19 came from cancelling and postponing some budgeted spending such as foreign travel and training; national ceremonies; and procurement of vehicles.

In supporting the private sector from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has thus expedited the payment of verified expenditure arrears.

While giving priority to affected SMEs, President John Magufuli's government has dished out 376m US dollars (about 869.5bn/-) over the past two months.

Further financial measures by the Tanzanian government include granting VAT and customs exemptions to additional medical items requested by the Ministry of Health.

The total sum injected by the government in the anti-Coronavirus crusade is however higher than the reported figure above since it doesn't include the amount of money spent on sectoral coordination.

So far, Tanzania's official cumulative Covid-19 cases stand at 509, recoveries at 183, while active cases are 305 with 21 fatalities.

In fighting the contagion, the government has adopted limited containment measures including banning all public gatherings (except for worship), closing bars and restaurants, and mandating wearing face masks in Dar es Salaam region.

Schools, colleges, and other training institutions have been closed indefinitely as the government continuously assesses the Covid-19 status.

Other anti-Coronavirus measures imposed by President Magufuli's government include cancelling all international flights.The State also banned Union celebrations which are normally held on April 26 and May Day celebrations marked on May 1. All sports activities have been shelved as well.

However, seeking to restrict severe economic impacts, the government has avoided lockdown, with land borders kept open with active health screening at all points of entry.

Government operations also continue as normal, while private enterprises have equally been encouraged to continue operations while reminded to adhere to precaution measures to avoid the spread of the contagion.

Governments around the world are taking decisive steps to limit the human and economic impact of COVID-19.

Many countries have taken extraordinary monetary and fiscal policy measures.

"These measures are most welcome and essential, and more will be needed," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said when launching the tracker late in March, this year.

She said the policy tracker sought to help member countries be more aware of the experiences of others in combating the pandemic, and in adapting various policies and practices to their unique circumstances and needs.

"Sharing knowledge about COVID-19 enables us all to tackle the crisis more effectively," she said.

The tracker, she insisted, is not meant for comparison across members, as policy responses vary depending on the nature of the shock and country-specific circumstances.

According to the IMF, the tracker focuses on discretionary actions that supplement existing social safety nets and insurance mechanisms.

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